5 Cheese Marinara Meatballs are made with ground pork, ground beef, parmesan, Romano, asiago, mozzarella and ricotta cheese. They are cooked in marinara sauce in the slow cooker, guaranteeing a moist and juicy meatball!
Meatballs are an (almost) weekly dinner staple in my household. Over the years I have made them in a frying pan, in the oven or on the stovetop in homemade sauce.
My favorite way to cook meatballs though, is in my slow cooker! This is a no-fail method that doesn't need to be tended to at all during the cooking process.
Easy recipes are my jam, and that's the main reason this is my favorite way to cook meatballs! I love that I can start them early in the day, and then by dinnertime just throw a pot of spaghetti on the stove.
The meatballs do not clump together during the cooking process. I get that question a lot, and it's never once happened to me! They stay perfectly in tact and easily break apart into individual balls.
Slow cooker cheesy meatballs are excellent served alongside my garlic bread recipe.
- Made in the slow cooker - set it and forget it!
- Recipe yields 2 dozen meatballs
- Easy to freeze
- Makes for great leftovers
- Ground beef & ground pork - My 5 Cheese Marinara Meatballs are made with a combination of ground beef and ground pork. If you ever get the opportunity to purchase your beef and pork in bulk from a local farmer, I highly recommend you do it! We are fortunate to live in an area where we have access to farmers selling directly to consumers. We always have a freezer stocked full of different cuts of beef and pork. You'll want to choose a lean ground beef for this recipe. Grass fed beef tends to be a leaner beef, which is what I use for this recipe.
- Marinara sauce - I used marinara sauce straight from a jar for this recipe. It is a huge timesaver and I am all about saving time!
- Eggs - You will need two eggs to add to the ground meat mixture.
- Panko bread crumbs - I would say that 99% of the time, I use panko bread crumbs when cooking. I prefer the taste and texture. This recipe calls for unseasoned panko bread crumbs.
- Shredded parmesan cheese - The shredded parmesan cheese is added to the pork and beef meatball mix.
- Grated onion - Grated white onion is made by grating onion on a box grater. Using the large holes on the wide side of a 4-sided box grater, grate the onion until you have ½ cup onion.
- Oregano, garlic powder, salt, pepper, minced garlic & Worcester sauce - These are all used to enhance the flavor of the meatballs.
- Parmesan, Romano, asiago, mozzarella & ricotta cheese - This is the five cheese mixture that is added to the marinara sauce at the end of cook time.
Kitchen tools & equipment needed
- Slow cooker (AKA crockpot)
- Box grater
- Large mixing bowl
- Cutting board and chopping knife
- Measuring cups and measuring spoons
How to make
- Step 1 - Add the panko bread crumbs, garlic powder, dried oregano, salt, pepper and 1 cup shredded parmesan to a large mixing bowl and mix together.
- Step 2 - Add the grated onion, eggs, minced garlic and Worcester sauce to the large mixing bowl and combine with the dry ingredients.
- Step 3 - Add the ground beef and the ground pork to the meatball mixture. Using your hands, combine all ingredients together until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the meatball mix.
- Step 4 - Pour 1 jar of marinara sauce into the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Step 5 - Using your hands, roll the meatballs into small golf ball sized balls.
***Optional step - Based on feedback, I've added an optional step to this recipe. If you are concerned about fat cooking out during the slow cooking process, then you can lightly brown your meatballs in a skillet on the stovetop. Browning them will cook some of the fat out that otherwise would be mixed into the sauce during the slow cooking process. After browning the meatballs, you can move on to the next step of transferring them to the slow cooker. I don't normally brown mine first. I've always just put them in raw and have never had a problem with an excessive amount of fat cooking out. Take note that browning them first may slightly reduce the amount of time you need to cook them in the slow cooker for.
- Step 6 - Place each rolled meatball into the bottom of the slow cooker. Start by putting all the meatballs in an even layer. Once you have formed 1 layer, you can start laying additional meatballs on top of each other.
- Step 7 - Pour the second jar of marinara sauce on top of the meatballs. Try to cover the meatballs in the sauce.
- Step 8 - Cook the meatballs in the slow cooker for 6 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Meatballs need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Step 9 - After the meatballs have finished cooking, mix the five cheeses (parmesan, Romano, asiago, mozzarella & ricotta) into the sauce. Stir the cheeses in until they have melted. Their should be enough room in your slow cooker to just mix the cheese right in, with the meatballs still in there. If you have a smaller slow cooker and it seems like a tight squeeze, then go ahead and remove the meatballs before adding the cheeses.
- Serve & enjoy!
- Serve the Five Cheese Marinara Meatballs over spaghetti, penne, angel hair or fusilli pasta noodles!
- Five-Cheese Marinara Meatballs could also be served on a sub roll and made into meatball subs or on a pizza shell for meatball pizza.
- Keep it low-carb and serve the meatballs over spaghetti squash or with a simple green salad.
Recipes you might also like
- Pink Pasta Sauce - Tomato Cream Sauce with Ground Turkey
- Pesto Turkey Meatballs with Ricotta Cheese
- Meatball Stuffed Shells
- Pasta with Sausage and Broccolini
- 1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
- ½ cup grated white onion*
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 48 ounces marinara sauce
- ¼ cup parmesan, Romano & asiago grated cheese blend
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella
- ½ cup ricotta
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt, pepper, oregano and shredded parmesan cheese.
- Add the minced garlic, grated onion, eggs and Worcester sauce to the bread crumb mixture and mix until well combined.
- Add the ground pork and ground beef to the mixing bowl. Using your hands, thoroughly combine the ground meat with the other ingredients in the mixing bowl.
- Pour half of the marinara sauce into the bottom of your slow cooker. Spread the marinara sauce out so it is evenly covering the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Roll the meatballs into golf ball sized balls. Place each meatball into the bottom of the slow cooker. Place the meatballs in an even layer. It is okay if you have to layer the meatballs in order to get them all to fit. You will end up with 24-26 evenly sized meatballs.
- Pour the rest of the marinara sauce over top of the meatballs.
- Cook the meatballs in the slow cooker on low for 6 hours or on high for 4 hours. Meatballs need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F.
- After the meatballs have finished cooking, add the 5 cheeses to the marinara sauce. Stir in the grated parmesan, Romano and asiago blend, shredded mozzarella and ricotta cheese into the sauce. Stir the sauce until the cheese has melted and is thoroughly mixed into the sauce.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Using the large holes on the wide side of a 4-sided box grater, grate the onion until you have ½ cup onion.
- If you are concerned about the fat cooking out during the slow cooking process, then you can lightly brown your meatballs before transferring them to the slow cooker. See the optional step listed in my blog post for more info on browning the meatballs.
- If you have a larger slow cooker, then their should be plenty of room to mix your cheeses into the sauce without removing the meatballs first. If you have a small slow cooker and it seems like a tight squeeze, then you can remove the meatballs with a slotted spoon before mixing the cheese into the sauce.
- Meatballs need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 4-6 hours in slow cooker
- Category: lunch, dinner
- Method: slow cooker
- Cuisine: Italian American
Keywords: 5 cheese marinara, five cheese marinara, five-cheese marinara
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, meatballs are an excellent food to make ahead and freeze. Simply make the meatballs, allow them to fully cool and store them in a zip top freezer bag.
No, they are not gluten free. You could easily make them gluten free though by making some simple swaps! For example, simply swap out the wheat based panko bread crumbs for gluten free bread crumbs.
You could try adding some provolone cheese and also fresh mozzarella cheese.